Olmsted County Places - Byron


BYRON, a railway village in Kalmar township, platted in 1864 and incorporated in 1873, was named at the suggestion of .G. W. Van Dusen, an early grain buyer, for his former home, Port Byron, N. Y. (W. H. Stennett, Origin of the Place Names of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, 1908, page 50.)

As indicated by census statistics, this hamlet contains only a few inhabitants, but it is peopled with an enterprising class of citizens, and has some advantages. Its site is a happily-chosen one on account of sanitary principles, and also for its pleasant surroundings and fine views. The railroad level here is 260 feet above that of Rochester, which makes it over 600 feet above the Mississippi at Wabasha, or 1220 feet above the sea level. Standing on the platform of the railroad depot, one may gaze on miles of rolling prairie in every direction, which, with its acres of golden grain, or its green pastures covered with lowing kine, makes a scene to delight the eye of the artist, or the practical observer of nature's luxury. Here and there are handsome groves of willow, maple or elm that mark the location of farmers' homes, and hundreds of these happy homes, where abound the evidences of intelligence and culture, are to be found in the near vicinity.

The birth of this village dates at the location of a railroad station here in the fall of 1864. Cars were running in the spring of 1865. The first building put up on its site was a farm house erected by Moses Herrick in 1856. It is still standing and constitutes the upright part of Charles F. Kesson's residence on Dibell street. Another was built in the eastern part of the village during the same season by Samuel Mott. This was burned about twenty-six years after.

When the railroad arrived the northwest quarter of section thirty-three, on which stand the buildings constituting the village proper, was owned by Addison J. Dibell, who donated the depot site to the railway company. He shortly sold the south half of his land to John C. Simonton and G. W. Van Dusen, who platted the village. Mr. Dibell then made an addition to the plat, on which most of the residences now stand. Simonton built and operated the first store, now owned and occupied by K. E. Mo. There are two other stores here now, the largest being that of J. B. Kendall, postmaster. This occupies two rooms, each forty feet long, the main one being twenty-two wide and the other sixteen. An annual business of $20,000 per year is transacted over his counters. In 1869 a wheat elevator and warehouse was built by G. W. Van Dusen and Thomas J. Templar. It has a capacity of 20,000 bushels. Large amounts of wheat and other grains have been marketed here in years gone by. In 1872 a cheese factory was built on the north side of the village at a cost of $2,000, furnished by sixteen individuals. It was operated by this association at a steady loss until 1882, since which time it has been leased by Marvin & Cummack, of Rochester. This firm, which operates several factories in the county, paid one cent per pound for milk during the season of 1883, and gave excellent satisfaction to the farmers. A wagon-shop, harness and two blacksmith shops, with a shoeshop and sewing-machine dealer, represent the remaining industries of this village, except that of its farmer residents.

The charter incorporating the village of Byron bears date of February 20, 1873. This was procured mainly to enable the citizens to suppress the sale of liquor within its limits. The latter were therefore made to cover a large area. It includes all of section 32, the west half of section 33, south half of section 29 and southwest quarter of section 28. Dudley Sinclair, Francis C. Whitcomb and Thomas S. Kesson were named in the charter as judges of the first election. This was held in Grove & Simonton's hall March 11,1873, and the judges were elected councilmen for one year. Knud E. Mo was made recorder, Perry Newell, treasurer; George H. Stephens, justice; W. L. Standish, constable, and George W. Gove, assessor. On the 18th of March the board held a meeting and passed an ordinance prohibiting gambling or the sale or giving away of intoxicating liquors within the village limits. At the annual election in 1873, the following officers were chosen, forty-six votes being cast: Councillors, E. M. Gilbert, J. R. Webb and D. McLane; recorder, C. E. Gillett; treasurer, K. E. Mo ; assessor, A. G. Hurd; justice, Joseph B. Kendall; constable, I. E. Remick.

There is a strong religious sentiment, fostered by two churches. An excellent school is maintained in a large and convenient building provided for that purpose by the enlightened citizens, who appreciate the necessity and value of good schools.


MINNESOTA GEOGRAPHIC NAMES Their Origin and Historic Significance



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